Australia says China’s treatment of writer is unacceptable

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s foreign minister has described as unacceptable the daily interrogation of a shackled Chinese Australian writer detained in Beijing on suspicion of espionage since January.

Yang Hengjun was taken into custody upon arriving in southern China's Guangzhou from New York on January with his wife, Yuan Xiaoliang, and his 14-year-old stepdaughter.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Monday she is “very concerned” by reports from Australian officials following their latest monthly consular visit to Yang, who remains in criminal detention. Her office did not immediately say when that visit had taken place.

Some analysts suspect Yang has been detained because of Chinese anger over Australian legislation passed by Parliament last year that outlaws covert foreign interference in Australian politics and institutions.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday announced an 88 million Australian dollar ($60 million) investment in a new Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce to disrupt and deter anyone attempting to undermine Australia’s national interests.

Morrison says he shares Payne’s concern for Yang.